I know that a lot of people who read this blog are dreading The Holidays, or as we call them in England festivities. Most of them are looking back at the Thanksgivings, and Christmas’s before the shit hit the fan nostagically, remembering how wonderful they were, and thinking how they will never get them back; they may well be feeling as if they were a lie, all just a load of crap; they are probably feeling both! But more importantly some are actually afraid of them and the memories (triggers) that they will bring.
I think one of the things that compounds the feeling of dread is that expectations rise; we are constantly told that everyone should be bappy during The Holidays. Media and adveritsing ram down our throats that everyone is happy and you should be too and if your not you’ve failed.
What a load of bollocks!! Sorry it is the only way to say it!
So we come to dread them; tell ourselves the stories of how the Thanksgiving’s before were always so happy. How the Christmas Holidays were full of fun and laughter; and the demon in our head tells us that we will never be that happy again.
He’s lying I know! You can be if you want to, with our without your partner you can make something new, make new memories, something honest to look back on.
Christmas was always such a happy time in our house, we had the additional celebration of it being Tom’s birthday on Christmas Eve (I know! Don’t ever have unprotected sex in March, that’s what I learnt) and it was always a double celebration. The year that ‘The War’ broke out in our lives was the year that Tom was going to turn eighteen – which is a big deal in England.
In my normal indominatable way I was not going to let what had happened ruin what had always been a wonderful time of year for us; and I was especially not going to let it ruin Tom’s birthday.
So for our first Christmas I made new memories – we made new memories. We changed things we used to do – like going to the pub on Christmas Eve in the afternoon – and we went to the pub on Christmas day for a lunchtime drink before dinner.
We started a tradition of visiting a small quaint pub in the medieval city of Canterbury for lunch when we did our Christmas shopping – a pub that had not been tainted in any way by ‘The War’. In fact we continued that tradtion right up to the last Christmas before we left England for our adventure in France.
We started a tradition of playing Monopoly on Boxing day, we kept presents back to open after dinner, and I bought a Christmas tree to put up on the balcony of our home to show people that we were still together, and that I didn’t give a fuck what they thought! It gave the illusion that we were deliriously happy; and whilst we were in a better place (God knows it couldn’t have been any worse!) I can assure you that there was still a lot of shit to go through!
All of these things seem like really small things (always remember small steps) but they then enabled us to follow those traditions the year after, and the years after that, new traditions, new memories that helped us to not look back with poignancy at the one’s we used to have.
So if your fighting to survive this is my advice:
Stop looking back, I know it’s hard but at this time of year just keep saying to yourself ‘it’s all about the here and now. If I get through this one the next one will be easier.’ And it will!
Make new memories, small things, perhaps new baubles for the tree, a different tradition for the day, a photograph to look back on when times are hard, this is one of the main ways that you will be able to face the future events without fear.
But most importantly if you want to survive you have to try, you have to make an effort if not for your relationship for yourself.
Remember you are grieving, rightfully so, for what has been lost, and all that entails including any holidays,birthdays, Easter, anniversaries, none of them seem real now, none of them seem honest when your world has been blown apart by an affair. The first year is the hardest because you have to face every one of them – with another lovely little anniversary known as Dday thrown in!
I can remember every one of them frightening me; so I held on to a peice of advice I was given when my darling mum died: ‘Get through the first year and the others will get easier because you have done it once already.’ But you have to let it get easier, you have to let go. It was good advice and I used it when my world was blown apart by betrayal.
Oh and Tom’s birthday – we threw him a great big party in our house, and Rich cried, because he never thought he would be there!
I will be sharing my journal entry from the first Christmas we were back together – ironically I did not write in it over Christmas but the entry is just before so look out for it.
As always I hope this helps. Stay strong, and remember – always have yourself because without yourself you have nothing.